Even though I am enrolled in a post-professional AT program, I am beginning to explore my options of continuing education opportunities. I am finding that there are a wide variety of programs to choose from and so many skills I want to gain. My undergraduate education provided me the skills and knowledge necessary to become a competent, entry-level athletic trainer. However, as I now seek to develop myself as a professional, I find myself asking; which direction should I go?
Personally, I find it difficult to maintain a high level of knowledge pertaining to all the domains of athletic training when I use them variedly. Some skills (rehabilitation, organizational health and wellness) I use every day, while others, in my current setting, like emergent care, are used infrequently. And although I understand my professional responsibility to remain current, I also want to highlight the skills I use most. Other healthcare professions such as physical therapy for example, have developed specialty certifications (such as Orthopaedic Specialist Certification (OCS), and Sports Specialist Certification (SCS)) so that health care professionals may continue to develop themselves professionally, and set themselves apart when seeking employment. I understand that organizations such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) provide the opportunity for athletic trainers to gain post-professional certifications, however, our governing bodies (NATA/BOC) should be providing specializations like others do? It’s not that the conversations haven’t been occurring or that they don’t conceptually exist. The NATA has provided a helpful definition,1 so that we can know about future possibilities, but it’s time for development, validation, and deployment of specialty certifications in Athletic Training.